We’ve been spoiled this year when it comes to great games, and the holiday season promises to take 2017 to even greater geeky heights, according to Trusted Reviews Games Editor Brett Phipps.
As a kid, every Christmas my mum and dad would hand me the Argos catalogue to make my wishlist of gifts for Santa to bring. Immediately I’d flip the gargantuan tome to the entertainment section, and look at what video games I wanted. The usual suspects would be there: that year’s FIFA or PES (depending on which era we’re talking about), WWE, and a big-name shooter. But each year would always carry that one game that would shoot right to the top of the list.
Some years stand out more than others, like spending Christmas day storming the beaches of Normandy in Medal of Honor Frontline, or learning that Smash Bros. on the N64 was not, in fact, a game where Mario faces Pikachu in a footrace.
Information about games just wasn’t as widely available pre-internet, and I was seven.
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Then there were the years when there was a brand new console.
Having spent the best part of September explaining to my mum why the latest lump of plastic is really, really good – before shocking her by revealing the cost of the machine – I was inevitably told it was too expensive, though just as regularly enjoyed losing my shit come Christmas morning when there was indeed a console-shaped box under the tree.
Santa was a good dude, despite taking all the credit for my parents’ overtime and double shifts.
The point is, each year was highlighted by one or two smash hits, but can you think of a year with as many stone-cold bangers ready to sit under the tree as 2017? There’s already enough amazing titles to keep you gaming for the next several years.
The year started incredibly strong, with Resident Evil 7, Yakuza 0 and Gravity Rush 2 all launching before the tinnitus subsided from the New Year’s fireworks closing out 2016. Then February rolls around, bringing with it Nioh, Horizon Zero Dawn and For Honor.
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March saw an industry-changing new console in the form of the Nintendo Switch which – despite early concerns about its lack of horsepower – changed the way we look at the home console space.
Against the odds, perhaps, Nintendo had beautifully blended home and portable console gaming into one stunning machine. Needless to say, I was instantly hooked on the concept.
But the best was still to come.
Incredible Nintendo Switch games have been released as a steady drip-feed since the console’s initial launch, keeping the diehards happy and enticing new converts in equal measure. Sure, the Switch stormed out of the gate with Breath of the Wild, but let’s not forget the epic experiences offered by the likes of Mario Kart 8, ARMS and Splatoon 2.
Yes, Nintendo has shown a new willingness to take chances, not only with its hardware, but also with its IP. We’ve seen plenty of its games come to mobile in stellar fashion, with Super Mario Run being the first toe dipped in the water – reaping dividends in the process.
Now there’s also Layton, Fire Emblem, Pokemon and more on the way. We’ve seen a more liberal Nintendo this year, and gamers are benefitting greatly from it – Mario and the gang teaming up with Ubisoft’s Rabbids in Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle being one recent highlight.
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Having one brand-new console to sit under the tree is normally enough to keep kids occupied persuading their parents – and players convincing their spouses – that they’ve been very good this year. But then Microsoft comes along with the “most powerful home console ever made” in the form of the Xbox One X, promising 4K/HDR gaming (almost) across the board? You couldn’t make it up if you were a Game of Thrones season 7 showrunner!
E3 proved tastier still, as we got teased with all the ‘other’ games set to launch over the next 18 months, including Prey, Injustice 2, Persona 5 and DiRT 4. And do you know the best part? We’re only just entering the so-called ‘busy’ period of the gaming launch calendar…
August is positively packed. We’re going to see how it all started for Chloe Price in Life is Strange: Before the Storm, as well as what happened after Nathan Drake’s adventures in Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. Then there’s a spiritual successor in the form of Agents of Mayhem, which looks to take the Saints Row formula and wrap it in a neo-futuristic setting.
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Before we’ve even had a chance to catch our breath, September brings a month of addictive releases with Destiny 2 getting Guardians back into its loop of shooting and looting, before FIFA 18 and PES 2018 reignite the eternal argument over who is the king of the pitch – based on my early time with both titles, this debate hasn’t been as hotly contested since the PS2 halcyon days.
Of course, if football isn’t your chosen sport, there’s also NBA 2K18 and WWE 2K18 to keep you occupied, with developer Visual Concepts creating some of the most stunning-looking sports titles ever made. Madden 18 should looks set to offer a more radical overhaul than we saw last year with the ’17 NFL title, so American football fans have plenty to be excited about, too. And we’ll see the jaw-dropping Project Cars 2 hit the shelves, along with Forza Motorsport 7 and GT Sport, giving motor game enthusiasts plenty to wish for in their stockings this year.
2017 is also the year we see two games that have seen more delays than Southern Rail arrive in stores with Crackdown 3 and Cuphead finally launching. This is all before Star Wars Battlefront 2, Call of Duty WW2 and even the heralded Xbox One X arrive. It’s going to be a very, very expensive holiday season, so I hope you’ve all been very good girls and boys for Father Christmas.
On a personal note, my entire calendar is cleared for South Park: The Fractured But Whole. Stick of Truth was my favourite game of 2014, and I’ve been eagerly anticipating the sequel. I can’t wait to see what the gang from the quiet little mountain town get up to as their superhero alter egos.
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Put simply, there’s never been a better time to be a gamer.
2017 has our longest game of the year contender list ever, with titles that can compete with arguably any game ever released – and two stellar new consoles to enjoy them on.
There are so many games not mentioned above that are equally worth checking out from this year, but to list them all would see this article run on and on and on.
Indeed, it’s more a case of finding the time to game than weighing up what to play, so I wish you the best of luck in making all those tough choices.
And I hope you’ll share a casual prayer with your deity of choice for me, too.